Islanders Semyon Varlamov proving doubters wrong

New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov is one of the best shot-stoppers in the playoffs.

Lou Lamoriello wanted Semyon Varlamov. The New York Islanders GM had apparently been chasing the former Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals netminder as early as he stepped into the job for the Islanders.

Lou finally got his man in the 2019 free agency period with a four-year $20 million deal.

In his first season wearing orange and blue, Varlamov averaged a 2.62GAA, and 0.914SV% in 39 starts. Good numbers, sure. But they aren’t great numbers. Which is why NHL.com didn’t think that Varlamov could put good numbers in the postseason.

Not So Bottom Tier

Going into the postseason, 13 NHL.com writers voted on the top goalies for all 24 teams. Semyon Varlamov did not make the top 16. He finished with 12 points, ranking him 25th of 31 options (tied with Joonas Korpisalo).

Here’s their ranking from one through 16. Along with how each has performed up to the time of writing (and then Varlamov at the end for reference):

GoalieStatusWinsSV%*GSAA*
Tuukka RaskOpted-Out10.904-1.78
Andrei VasilevskiyActive50.9281.95
Connor HellebuyckEliminated10.904-1.89
Jordan BinningtonActive00.860-7.22
Ben BishopActive10.862-3.31
Carey PriceActive40.9537.30
Marc-Andre FleuryActive20.886-1.44
Frederik AndersenEliminated20.9362.69
Braden HoltbyActive10.897-3.85
Carter HartActive40.9494.00
Tristen JarryEliminated00.9520.70
Elvis MerzlikinsActive10.9461.98
Jacob MarkstromActive50.9272.24
Darcy KuemperActive40.9241.58
Sergei BobrovskyEliminated10.901-2.22
Robin LehnerActive40.908-1.41
Semyon VarlamovActive60.9322.31

*All situations
**Wins from NHL.com, SV% and GSAA from NaturalStatTrick

Look, I don’t blame the NHL.com writers for thinking Varalmov may not be a top performer in the postseason. Varlamov hasn’t exactly been a top performer in the regular season. His inability to come up with big stops in big moments didn’t do the Islanders any favors down the stretch.

But nor have some of the other goalies on this list. Braden Holtby? Sure he helped the Caps win a Cup two years ago, but he’s been dreadful since then. Sergei Bobrovsky has been awful all year and has one good playoff series since 2011.

Varlamov may not have glowing regular season numbers from 19-20, but we saw how good he could be with the Isles when they were healthy. From October 4 (the start of the season) to December 31 (last game before Isles started their downfall), Varlamov put up a 14-3-3 record and averaged a 0.920SV% and a 2.21GAA.

And now in the playoffs, Varlamov has again come up big for the Isles.

His 2.31 goals saved above average (in all situations) is bested by only a handful of goalies. His 0.959SV% at 5on5 is fourth in the playoffs. Only Merzlikins, Grubauer, and Price have a better 5on5 save percentage than Varlamov does.

Varlamov has been an absolute wall at the back for the Islanders. A fact that has given his team a lot of confidence according to captain Anders Lee.

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There wasn’t a lot of belief that Varlamov could be a top goalie in this postseason, but Varlamov has shown that he’s right there with the best of them.